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Each essay must contain at least four quotations: at least two from Law’s essay (specifically, ‘The evil-god challenge’, from the September 2010 issue of Religious Studies; other Law sources are unacceptable), at least two from Rowe’s discussion of the argument from evil (specifically, from the exact essay covered in Unit 8; other Rowe sources are unacceptable). These quotations must be quotations, not paraphrases, and indicated by either quotation marks or, in the case of a long quotation, block quotation formatting. Each quotation must contain at least one clause (I have been forced to add this requirement since a previous student in a different course tried to use “hypothetical method” as one of his quotations). Your page references for these quotations will be double-checked. Any of failing to provide the minimum number of quotations, or failing to provide page numbers for all of your quotations, or failing to provide the correct page numbers for all of your quotations, will be grounds for a grade penalty up to and including a mark of zero on the essay. I must emphasize that I am extremely serious about necessity of the page numbers: last semester I gave an essay zero for failing to provide a single page reference for any of its quotations; if need be, I will do so again.
Due Dates and Late Penalties: There are two due dates, although you only submit your essay once. The first due date is Tuesday March 20 (11:59 PM); the second due date is Tuesday April 3 (11:59 PM). If you submit your essay by the first due date it will be eventually returned to you with comments; essays submitted after the first due date but not after the second due date will be marked with no penalty, but will not be commented upon. Essays submitted after the second due date will be penalized 2.5 percent per day (or 1.25 percent of your overall course grade per day), including Saturdays and Sundays. Essays submitted for the first deadline cannot be resubmitted for the second deadline.
Length and Electronic Format for Dropbox Submission: Your essay (including title) should be a minimum of 1500 words, and no longer than 2000 words (please note that quotations count toward your word count). Shorter essays will be penalized by how much they fall short; longer essays will not be directly penalized, but material after 2000 words won’t be read or marked (so if you give me an essay that is longer than 2,000 words, it will end abruptly from the marker’s point of view, and lack a proper conclusion). The essays must be submitted to the electronic Dropbox that is part of our MyLS site in one of the following formats: MS Word, WordPerfect, Postscript, Acrobat PDF, HTML, RTF, or Plain Text (no zipped or otherwise compressed files, please; notice .odt is NOT among the permissible formats). Essays not submitted in the correct format or which are otherwise unopenable will not be accepted (and so, for example, if you submit an unopenable file on Wednesday, and then submit an openable version on Thursday, your essay will be considered submitted on Thursday, not Wednesday).
Style: Please write in full sentences with proper use of paragraphs, punctuation, etc. Although the style should be formal, you may refer to yourself (e.g., “My thesis is … “, “I disagree with …”, etc.; as with anything, too many instances of “me” “myself” and “I” are to be avoided, but that doesn’t mean you can never use them). While I don’t do anything as rigid as take off a mark for each typo and grammatical error, the quality of the writing is an important factor in the assigning of your grade: as a rule of thumb, only overall well-written essays will have much chance of getting an A- or higher; essays that are poorly written will typically fall into the C range or lower.
Text Format: Regarding spacing, font, font size, etc., I’m really not too picky about these things anymore: now that essays are submitted electronically, their length (word count) can be checked rather easily, and this removes the primary motivation for standardized formatting. My personal preference is for 12 point Times New Roman font, double-spaced, 1 inch (2.54 cm) margins, left justification of main body. But if you prefer different formatting settings (e.g., 11 point font, 1.5 spacing, full justification), that’s probably not going to be a problem (I say “probably” because there are certain things you could do that would significantly detract from the readability of your essay: for example, a ridiculously large font, using block caps, underlining everything, making your text red or some other unpleasant-to-read colour, etc.).
Quotes: Your only sources of quoted material should be Law’s 2010 ‘The evil-god challenge’ (mandatory), William Rowe’s essay from our Unit 8 (mandatory), and possibly other course materials (not required, but not forbidden; for example, you can, if you like, quote from Howard-Snyder Bergmann’s essay that replies to Rowe, also covered in Unit 8). Since these will be your only sources, you only need to provide accurate page references (for Law, use page numbers 353 – 373; for everything else, use the page numbers from the original course package, which are the page numbers used by the Course Notes — for example, Rowe’s ‘Evil is Evidence Against the Existence of God’ runs from pages 182 – 192 in the Course Package), and make it clear who is the author of the quotation. For this reason, a bibliography or list of references is unnecessary.
Despite the mandatory quotations, make sure not to overdo the quotations: I am much more interested in seeing your words and ideas than a stich-up of other people’s words. At the threshold of 30% quoted material I will begin taking substantial marks off, with the penalty being even more substantial for even greater proportions of quoted material. At the bottom end of things, a 1500 word essay should have less than 450 words of quoted material; at the other extreme, a 2000 word essay should have less than 600 words of quoted material.
Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct: An additional document intended to discourage plagiarism will be provided as the first due date for the essay draws near. Here I will simply say that all essays are automatically fed through a similarity-checker (Turnitin), and then read very carefully by someone with years of experiencing finding plagiarism (i.e., me). I take plagiarism very seriously and very personally, and find plagiarized (including purchased) papers on a regular basis (typically multiple cases each term, including papers that aren’t flagged by Turnitin). For anyone contemplating plagiarism for whatever reason (pressure from other courses is the most common reason cited), I can assure you the risk is not worth it: submitting an original essay you’re not happy with, and perhaps getting a mark you’re not happy with, is always better than getting an F in the course and having your name put on a registry with the Dean’s Office.